My husband and I first visited Palm Desert (Palm Springs area) in July 2000. Friends had lent us their condo for a week. Although we were grateful for their generosity, and we certainly enjoyed our trip, we never really got into the Palm Desert vibe.
The summer in the desert was hotter than hot. Even the unheated swimming pools were too warm to swim in, providing little relief. Hiking, which we loved, was out of the question for us mere mortals. We tried to golf–it was the hottest that I ever remember being in my life. The alternative appeared to be indoor malls, overpriced restaurants, bands that we simply weren’t into and casinos. Even if we excluded the heat, everything around us looked a bit artificial. The average age was definitely ‘senior’ and the pace was much slower than we had expected.
Flash forward to October 2016. We are in Palm Desert to see the iconic Desert Trip Concert (stay tuned for next week’s post). We are also here on a month-long home exchange. In short, we have quickly fallen in love with this area. Guaranteed sunshine, breathtaking panoramic views, balmy evenings, cozy downtown areas, world class art galleries, foodie’s paradise, shop-worthy outlet stores, every sport imaginable..and very affordable yoga and golf ($30/month for daily yoga and $19 + $5 cart rental for 18 holes of golf). I even tried ‘chair yoga.’ Now, before you start imagining me at a senior citizen’s centre, it was a surprisingly great workout (telling me once again that my balance is okay, but my hamstrings are akin to Fort Knox)!
To rhapsodize further, there is an old Hollywood charm and a definite retro-glamour here, especially when meandering down Palm Canyon Drive. The entertainment offerings showcase both current and vintage names. Desert Trip aside, live entertainment for this month also includes: Kayne West, Robin Thicke, Jo Koy, Arsenio Hall, Foreigner, ZZ Top, Tears for Fears, Alice Cooper, Kiss, Clint Black, Dwight Yoakam, The Doobie Brothers, Willie Nelson, Jimmy Buffett and Tony Bennett…to name only a few. On a budget? Many of the community complexes, as well as local casinos, offer great entertainment for no cost. In preparation for Desert Trip, Richard and I attended a free Mick Adams and The Stones concert. As we looked around, there were people of all ages in attendance. Many were shaking it on the dance floor, others were enjoying the music over a glass of wine, while others were providing free vocal backup (yup, that would be Richard)!
Photo Credit: MickAdamsStonesTribute
On this visit, Richard and I have both found it incredibly easy to be here. Palm Desert has the advantages of a dynamic city and the feel of a small town. Adding to this sense of community, our home exchange is in Sun City, a large gated compound containing over five-thousand homes. On the first day, I nerdily checked the program guide hoping to find a yoga class. Overwhelming, I found several yoga classes along with seventy-five other chartered clubs/groups (ranging from Writers’ Circle, Camera Club, Model Railroaders, Democrats in the Sun, Sun City Republicans and much more). Most impressively, as an area that hosts an ever increasing onslaught of tourists and snowbirds each year, everyone that we have met so far has been friendly, welcoming and extremely helpful.
What has made the dramatic change in our point of view? Undeniably, the October Palm Springs’ weather is much more pleasant than that of July (highs of only 91 degrees Fahrenheit, instead of 108)! Also, although we don’t like to admit it, our perspectives have changed as we have…well, matured. But, the most likely reason of all is that Palm Springs has evolved as well. In March 2016, Gogobot’s travel website listed Palm Springs as “the number one, hippest mid-sized American city.” (Source) Some things truly do improve with age!
Feature Photo: My weekly blogging view has changed significantly…although Cody continues to remain underfoot!